The Tongueless Guardians of the Chain Bridge

Completed in 1849, the Chain Bridge was the first bridge that connected Buda & Pest and was considered a wonder of the world. It was almost completely destroyed by the retreating German army near the end of World War II, but Hungary decided to rebuild the landmark. Exactly 100 years after its original completion, the bridge re-opened in 1949.  

There is a myth involving the lions guarding each side of the bridge. Shortly after their placement in 1852, word spread that the sculptor, János Marschalkó, forgot to provide tongues to the open-mouthed lions. Embarrassed and ashamed of his mistake, Marschalkó supposedly then took his own life by being the first person to jump off of the bridge.

His suicide, however, is only a legend as Marschalkó died from old age many years later. Apparently though, he was very frustrated by the the critical rumors of his mistake. To prove that his sculptures were correct, he took several people from Budapest to a circus. It is reported that upon seeing a real lion, he was finally able to prove to his doubters that you not see a lion's tongue when it opens its mouth.

What I found interesting about this story, is that I could not find proof that the sculptures actually do have tongues! It is reported on several websites that the lions, in fact, do have tongues. However, you cannot see the tongues unless you climb up on the sculptures...which I did not do. 

Rather than climb the sculptures, I chose to position myself on a small, raised triangular section of concrete in the middle of the road and take a photograph. I wouldn't call it a sidewalk, but it did separate the two lanes of the road and, while it sounds dangerous, it provided a safe place to stand as cars passed on both sides. 

My intention was to get an image featuring the light trails of the cars passing by. After I arrived home and reviewed my images, I found I preferred the cleaner image above of just the bridge itself. That said, I decided to also share the other version (and my original intention) below. Clicking on either one will give you a larger image from my website. I would love to know which one you prefer!

On my next visit, I will climb the lions and prove/dispel the myth once and for all... :)